Okay, I will come clean. In Daniel Gordis’s latest column for the Jerusalem Post, he writes about meeting “one of America’s leading Jewish journalists” whom he describes as “extraordinarily smart” and who cares a lot about Israel.
Imagine my surprise to read about myself. Not that I mind his characterization (thank you, Daniel!), but I mind having what I thought was a private conversation publicized without my knowledge or consent.
And it was a great conversation – for nearly two hours, Gordis spoke with me and Dan Friedman, the Forward’s arts and culture editor, about a range of topics, from his plans for expanding the Shalem Center, which he heads, to politics in Israel, to the challenge of raising children both here and there. He’s an interesting, articulate thinker, and while we don’t agree on certain key issues, he was a civil sparring partner.
But he wasn’t taking notes. So please understand that the quotes in his column are not exact. (My daughter would never say “totally awesome.” That, I’m told, is for 12-year-olds.) More significantly, I did not think that the recent terrorist attacks in Eilat were mere “incidents.”
Quite the contrary. As I wrote in an editorial a few days after our conversation, the attacks were especially troubling because that part of Israel was clearly not contested territory, and some of the victims were clearly civilians. I even did what too few people who wrote about the attacks did, and named those victims, to humanize them, and make us understand and connect.
I suspect that Gordis thought he could take a private conversation public because I wasn’t actually named. But even people I don’t know recognized me immediately. There are, after all, very few leading Jewish journalists who are women, who share those views and who have daughters who might have just been in Tel Aviv.
What really rankles is that I was portrayed as someone who believes that, in Gordis’s words, “if we just make peace, the violence will stop.” Sorry, I’m not that naive. Or that foolish. I just happen to believe that the current government of Israel is not doing all it can to end an occupation that is harming another people and staining the Zionist dream.
It’s possible Daniel Gordis might agree with me. But I won’t tell.
Jane Eisner, a pioneer in journalism, is writer-at-large at the Forward and the 2019 Koeppel Fellow in Journalism at Wesleyan University. For more than a decade, she was editor-in-chief of the Forward, the first woman to hold the position at the influential Jewish national news organization. Under her leadership, the Forward’s digital readership grew significantly, and won numerous regional and national awards for its original journalism, in print and online.